On April 4, the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, Shirin Ebadi the Head of the Center for Mine Cleanup (Iran), emphasized the demand of civil society in expediting the process of mine clean ups, acceding to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and their Destruction (Ottawa Convention) and attending to the need of victims. Despite the fact that more than 20 years have passed since the end of the Iran-Iraq war, approximately 3 million Hectares of land are infected with mines in Iran, including in the provinces of Ilam, Kurdistan, West Azarbaijan, Kermanshah and Khouzestan. On average, two to three people are injured or killed by mines on a daily basis. At the same time, experts contend that the medical and financial assistance provided to victims are insufficient.
As such, Shirin Ebadi, along with several colleagues set up the “Center for Mine Clean Ups” several years ago, so that they can amplify the voices of those who live in mine infected areas. Unfortunately most of these citizens suffer from economic problems and because of their distance from the Capital city of Tehran their voices and concerns often go unheard.
In a short interview with the site of the “Defenders of Human Rights Center” Ebadi explained that: “we have brought attention to this common pain, which has been ignored due to general neglect, including by intellectuals.” Ebadi, who is also the Head of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, expressed pleasure with the fact that people are generally aware of the dangers posed by mines. She added further that: “we view our goals to be public awareness raising on the dangers posed by mines and provision of assistance to survivors of injuries caused by mines.”
The founders of the Center for Mine Cleanup include: Shirin Ebadi, Bayazid Mardoukhi, Asa’d Ardalan, Leila Arshad, Soraya Azizpanah, Mina Rabie’I, Sadighe Hojat Panah, Abdollah Jahanbin, and Mehdi Afrouz Manesh. The Center began its activities in 2003. After the adoption of bylaws and goals, it was issued an operating permit in 2005. According to members of this NGO, the Center views the issue of Mines as a social problem, as mines impact people in their daily lives.
In February 2009 the Center organized a meeting intent on drafting recommendations to thirty-five members of the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Parliament) on reforming the fourth note on the law on financial assistance to those who have migrated to war affected areas and who have been injured and disabled as a result of explosives.